Funds tighten for fighting AIDS and malaria worldwide
Global health leaders are urging the Obama administration to make up a deepening shortfall.
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"We're talking about a few billion dollars and millions of lives," says Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York and a special adviser on development and health to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon. Arguing that national governments are coming up with trillions of dollars for economic stimulus packages and that Wall Street managed to pay out nearly $20 billion in bonuses for 2008, Mr. Sachs says, “Is the money there? Yes, the money’s there.”Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Chernin was one of the business leaders at the World Economic Forum who began a $100 million fundraising campaign to fight malaria in Africa. The effort, called the Malaria Capital Campaign, already has commitments of $40 million, according to Chernin and Rex Tillerson, Exxon’s CEO.
Moreover, the Global Fund has already had notable successes – sometimes through initiatives as simple but effective as the distribution of bed nets to ward off mosquitoes. Malaria cases are down by two-thirds in Rwanda, Chernin says, and by 80 percent in Eritrea.
Chernin says it would be inaccurate to tar the US as a laggard in international health issues. “The Bush administration deserves credit for a dramatic increase in global health funding,” he says. That funding included President’s Bush’s HIV/AIDS initiative in Africa and increased attention to malaria.
But that does not alter the fact that the US, which makes up about a third of the Global Fund, is falling further behind in its contribution.
The next opportunity for making up lost ground will be in April, when Spain hosts a donors’ “replenishment” conference. Sachs of Columbia University says he and other experts will be working to put the issue on the agenda of the Group of 20 summit in London, also in April.
In the meantime, Gupta says, he and others will press the US for action on its funding pledges. Noting that President Obama underscored his support for “programs that work” in his inaugural address, Gupta says Mr. Obama would send a “strong message” around the world by supporting proven global health programs.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.